Betrayal and humiliation or the advantage of having friends in high places

It is a truth universally acknowledged that cabinet colleagues at the end of the Commission term must be in want of a parachute. Therefore, despite some promises made 5 years ago after the last paratrooper airborne insertion exercise that there would be future limits on “parachutage”, it seems nothing has really changed.

Over the coming weeks, thousands of colleagues will receive the bad news that they have not progressed to oral test of the internal competitions. It is at this stage of the “Analysis of the Talent Screener by the Selection Board”, that the vast majority of applicants will be rejected.

This will be a major disappointment to many. Although it is generally known that the internal competitions were designed precisely to enable the parachutage and special promotions of our cabinet colleagues, many regular paratroopers retained the hope of winning the lottery and sneaking through with the “lucky few”.

Generation 2004’s prediction based on previous exercises is that the typical candidate will be just a couple of points off the threshold needed to advance to the next stage, and will be hurt by a low score on the so-called Talent Screener for the criterion requiring “professional experience of managing a team or coordinating activities”. By contrast, our cabinet colleagues as well as a few other non-cabinet colleagues serving power-brokers within the Commission bureaucracy will score highly on this, which will thus take them over the threshold.

It is almost as if the competition had been designed with them in mind! The inevitable result of the exercise implies that the rest of the service must be so untalented they do not deserve to pass the talent screener. Never mind that we are deliberately deceiving and humiliating colleagues, who have already passed highly competitive entry examinations in front of juries. They are now been given the feeling that they are being rejected on the grounds of subjective criteria with the implication that they are not good enough to do a job they are already doing, which is deeply demoralising and demotivating.

Aside from the sheer injustice, the whole exercise is a massive and unnecessary administrative and financial burden, with thousands of staff spending valuable working time filling in pointless information, as well as a significant staff resource expended in administering all stages of this charade.

Are these humiliations for ordinary hard-working colleagues every 5 years really necessary? Is there not a way for the administration to be more open and transparent about the wish of our political masters to retain or promote cabinet colleagues at the end of the college mandate without going through this painful farce?

Here at Generation 2004, we acknowledge that there are indeed many very able hard-working colleagues in cabinets, whose skills and experience are worth retaining in the interests of the institution. We also appreciate that after 5 years of working together departing Commissioners are naturally keen to do what they can to help the colleagues that they have worked closely with. However, we wonder if there might be a better way of retaining key cabinet staff through a more transparent process of cabinet only competitions instead of this ridiculous and stupid pretence of a fair and open process for all.

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